Software companies are ruling Silicon Valley, the market, and the everyday consumer’s life. New features or any changes in the way they operate then become essential news for many stakeholders. SaaS companies are now integrating product updates as a part of their broader public relations strategies due to the increased appetite for these stories. A vital component of this public outreach is the press release, an official statement that includes all the information about important events like product updates, major hires, and funding rounds. In this article, we will learn when you should use a press release and how to craft engaging statements that will get your brand into the spotlight.
Not all product updates have to be sent to all your audiences. It is essential that you first understand your target audience before you announce your product updates. For example, if you’re announcing changes in the way a product is used, implementing new pricing schemes, introducing new features, or retiring old software, it should be announced internally. Some of this information may also be pertinent to external audiences (we’ll talk more about that in a minute), while other aspects will not. Use a blog post (example above) or an email list to send out the information to the relevant people. Here, Hubspot has created an extensive database of all its software updates and classified them based on product type to make them easy to search. As well as internal notifications, there are external notifications that need to go to a broader audience.
These contain information that may have implications for both your users and the industry as a whole. They might include policy changes, significant changes in product functionality, and legal or regulatory disclosures. For example, when BigCommerce made its checkout source code available to the public, it sent out a press release. To ensure that more people read your press release, you can also head over to your social media accounts and try an omnichannel release. For example, Slack uses its Twitter account (see above) to give its users a better idea of what updates mean for them.
Before you decide to issue a press release, you have to be clear about your reasons for making the announcement. Personnel at the relevant media outlets will decide whether to give your announcement a platform and disseminate it to a larger audience, so you want them to know the purpose of the press release right away. In addition to a strong justification for a press release, you also need a keen sense of timing. Remember that hundreds of press releases are sent to media outlets every hour, and if it’s poorly timed, your news may get buried. Let’s look at some of the cases where you need to put out a press release to announce a product update.
Some product updates are not of interest to the general public but are more of a way to show your stakeholders that their investments are being put to good use. While it doesn’t need to be an extensive promotional campaign, your press release has to be targeted to reach the right people. Choose publications that are read by investors and potential backers or are used as reference material in meetings. Here, you can also use a specially segmented email list to send if you want to keep the information within a specific group. If you want to reach select key people, use an email finder tool like Voila Norbert to help you find emails to ensure that everyone who matters receives your announcement. The purpose of these releases is to assure your investors you are using their money correctly and hitting your business goals. You may also announce funding rounds.
If you wish to do a press release announcing a new innovation, you will have to follow a slightly different route. Since you want to impress upon your audience that your product’s new features have the potential to disrupt the market, you will target people who are looking for the next big thing in your industry. For example, as a SaaS business owner, if you have a new feature that cements your position as an innovator, you will want to target tech publications like TechCrunch, WIRED, and The Verge. These publications are widely read by decision-makers in the tech sector, and if you manage to get them interested via your press release, you might get inquiries from them.
TechCrunch is one of a few tech magazines covering early funding rounds and has a dedicated section for startups. The purpose of these releases is not just to highlight your work but also to attract more customers. Often, media reports based on your press releases are the only source of information about your business for the average person. Typically, your target market is not aware of product updates unless you actively reach out to them.
Even if they directly receive updates from you, they are still more likely to trust a news report. Thus, these press releases can help you reach out to a broader audience. Your press releases must be engaging and have a specific and exciting angle. Think of it from the reporter’s perspective: why is this news, and why should they report it? Craft a release that is easy to read, has bullet points that capture the main points, and does not beat about the bush. Pro tip: Include a firm quote beyond the usual PR fluff and keep your numbers, if there are any, in a bulleted list.
Be very clear about your reasons for issuing a press release and get to know your target readership very well. These two factors will help you define your message clearly. You can also derive inspiration from other press releases and add relevant elements to them. Look at this PRDaily article that tells us how to adjust the press release to the current times. In the next section, we will take a detailed look at creating press releases for your product updates, from the drawing board through to publication.
We will now look at the actual steps you need to take to bring your product updates to your intended audience. From understanding your audience to choosing the right publications, we will look at a three-step plan that will put your business in the limelight.
Before you set out to craft your product updates release, you have to define your audience – is it the everyday user, the developer community, investors, or your peers in the industry? Some companies differentiate their announcements by putting them under different categories such as security, regulation, consumer, investor relations, and so on. Knowing your audience is vital for two reasons. First, it helps you zero in on the language and tone of your message. Second, it helps you include only the most relevant information in your product updates. For example, if you have an update on the UI of your software and your audience for the press release is your customers, you will want to tell them what this update means for them and how it will change the way they use your product.
If it is intended for your investors, you want them to know if it marks a major company achievement or industry milestone. Take a look at the Shopify Partners product update page above. The page is meant for their partners and deals mostly with web design and development. Identifying and clearly stating the audience helps them give relevant and actionable information specific to their partners and ensures that the information doesn’t get lost in a sea of other releases.
After you determine your target audience, you have to define your story. Reporters and editors sift through many pitches and releases every day, so you need to have a precise angle to your story. Similar to writing a news article, follow the inverted pyramid structure and lead with the most crucial part of the news, then add information based on decreasing importance. This is because journalists and editors follow a “cut from the bottom” approach – if an article is too long, they will simply remove content from the end as they assume that is the least important information. If you have any milestones to emphasize, add bullet points right below the headline, so readers see them right away. Your story should follow the 5Ws and one H of any good story:
When, What, Why, Who, Where, and How. Remember to give a clear hook that will convince the editor to carry your story and a strong reason why they should care. Your press release should end with a boilerplate, which is a short description of your company. In the image above, we see the boilerplate for Genesys. It gives the reader all the information they need about the company in just a few sentences.
After you have your campaign in place, it is time to get in touch with editors and reporters who can expand your story’s reach. Draft an outreach email that gives them the “why” and “how” of the story and paste the press release into the body of the email. Avoid attaching the release as a separate file unless it is image-heavy. Many people prefer not to open attachments from outside their company as they can carry viruses and malware. Before you send the release, make sure that the publication you are reaching out to is a credible source of information. Typically, publications have people who are dedicated to specific beats, and even within SaaS, they may have different people assigned to fintech, cloud-based subscriptions, and other products.
Try to find the people who write about your niche for a more focused outreach strategy. Ensure that you include your contact information and are available to take follow-up calls from the writers. You can also choose to send the release through a wire service like PRNewswire or Business Wire for broader distribution. You could combine both approaches and send the release to the wires and then follow up with individual reporters and editors of the publications you want to target. Check out this article that lists the common errors we make when reaching out to the media so that you can avoid making those mistakes!
Product updates have become an essential part of all SaaS companies’ public relations mechanisms, and the press release is a critical part of getting the word out about those updates. As a business owner, you should be clear about why you want to issue a statement, the kind of information you want to share, and who you want to share it with. When crafting a press release strategy, ensure that you know your intended audience. This will be your strategy’s starting point. Compose an engaging story with a clear hook, identify relevant industry publications, and reach out to the editors with a well-written and informative email. Good luck, and here’s to getting your business the coverage it deserves!